Letters for December 16-22, 2004
The article was profound: I just read Trevor Aaronson's December 9 story on Growing Together ("Suffering Together"). I can't tell you how much it means to see someone finally take an interest in what is going on in these places. I survived Straight St. Pete in the early '80s when Miller Newton was there. I just can't get over the fact that this is still going on. My incarceration was more than 20 years ago, and I'm still suffering the fallout. To think of all those who have come after me. I mean, the idea of the many profoundly damaged people who are now walking around is heartbreaking.
The culture of the Great Drug War has gotten so out of hand that this type of treatment of children has become acceptable in the name of rehabilitation. The validation of seeing in print that someone finally takes this seriously and doesn't dismiss any criticism of the program as "disgruntled druggies" helps to restore my faith in humanity. These types of programs have been destroying families for a long time, and it's time it stopped.
Thanks for taking an interest. I hope it spurs others to do the same.
Via the Internet
The article was way down: I picked up your paper yesterday and was deeply disturbed by the tone of Trevor Aaronson's article "Suffering Together." I am the stepfather of a girl who spent more than four years in the Growing Together program. She actually completed it twice. Over that period, I had boys/girls from the program at my home more than 600 times. My time and effort was difficult but also helpful to me and her. If my stepdaughter had not gone through this program, she would probably be dead today.
Unfortunately, you apparently chose to interview only parents or individuals who had problems with the program. In the four years I was involved, there were always parents who had problems. More often that not, they were a problem themselves in that they enabled their children in their addictions. It is a tough thing to confront the fact that your child has a drug problem. It's even tougher to confront yourself as part of the problem. No amount of talking, no amount of money, no change of location will cure your child's addiction. All that works is understanding and tough love for the addict.
Your article does not even attempt to present any positive view of what the program does. You instead have chosen to focus on certain things that may have occurred. Your sources appear to be people who have or had a real ax to grind with the program. This is a small percentage.
A program of this type needs to focus on both sides of the equation: the person with the problem and the people involved with the problem. Both must work at changing; both need to be actively involved. If either decides not to be honest and not to change, failure is a given.
I would ask that you write part II of this article and gather information from parents who have more positive things to says. There are a lot of people, me included, who would be more then happy to recount their experiences with their teenaged addicts.
I have lived this nightmare for ten years now, but I still want to change more addicted lives. I am not a professional in the field; I am just a parent who has had to deal with a problem that affects me even to this day.
Joseph R. Swierczewski
Earl is my old buddy: Even after the nasty election, I must say Bob Norman's mean-spirited attack on Earl Maucker and the Sun-Sentinel is over the top ("Scripps Script," December 2). Gee, how do you really feel? Sure glad I don't know Norman personally, but I do know Earl Maucker, and he is one of the most ethical, upright guys you will ever meet.
For heaven's sake, take a pill or something, and try a nicer approach if you want to make a point. You may even have one, but who cares after reading that diatribe?
They stole her ballot: As a "snowbird" who generally arrives at my Florida home in mid-December, I naturally send for my absentee ballots well ahead of time ("Vote Interrupted," Bob Norman, November 4). This year, I did so six weeks ahead of time. By mid-October, with no ballots and no word, I got persistent -- I faxed, e-mailed, and called almost daily. No response. Then I got frantic -- I made ten long-distance calls plus inquiries to U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's office, calls to emergency numbers, and reports to the Attorney General, the county commissioner, and everyone else I could think of -- no one knew anything.
On Thursday, October 27, I talked to a worker at an emergency center who assured me ballots had been sent FedEx overnight. Friday, I called again, twice: At 4 p.m., I was told the FedExed ballots would definitely be in my hands that night. End of story -- no ballots, no nothing, no response. Whom do we sue?
It's embarrassing to admit being a Broward County homeowner -- all my relatives think there must be something wrong with me to live among such idiocy and incompetence. Maybe they're right.
Because of incorrect information provided by a publicist, New Times' December 9 edition incorrectly reported on an event at Dorothy's Deli in Wilton Manors. Entertainer Mobius 8 was present.
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